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Friday, February 9, 2018

THOUGHTS ON HABITS VIA TIM ELMORE

Below are some wonderful thoughts to remember as we work with young people via Tim Elmore.  If you aren't reading Tim's books or signed up for his email blogs you are missing out on one of the best resources available today as we teach and coach millennials. In fact, since being introduced to Tim's materials by Georgia head coach Joni Taylor this past summer, he has become the most important resource I've had this season -- an absolute must if you are a coach, a teacher or parent.

As you work with students to build a healthy lifestyle, remember these truths:

1. Human beings are, indeed, creatures of habit.

2. Habits become addictions as they enable us to cope with life.

3. We often trade one habit for another as we attempt to quit bad ones.

4. We must help youth strive to replace bad habits with good ones.

5. Teens often don’t end bad habits until they feel the consequences of them.

6. One secret to maturity is to live free from the bondage of an addiction.

7. Healthy leadership begins with self-leadership. I must lead “me” first.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

THOUGHTS ON SHOOTING FROM TROY DANIELS

Here are a few of the Q & A's from Troy Daniels of the Phoenix Suns on the art of shooting.  You can read the entire article by Scott Bordow here.

Q: How many hours does it take to perfect the shooting form?
A: Wow. It’s tough to say. As a kid, you have a ton of energy. I was always trying to be around basketball. I have no clue, but if I had to say, at least five to six hours a day, just playing around, shooting.

Q: There are certain things good golfers have to do with their swings. Are their certain things good shooters have to do with their stroke?
A: I’m a firm believer that I don’t really think it matters what shot you shoot. If you shoot your shot, if you work on it every single day, literally get up 1,000 to 1,500 shots a day, you’ll master that shot. I really think that, honestly. I don’t think there’s a certain way to make a lot of shots. (Stephen) Curry shoots a different shot, Klay (Thompson) shoots a different shot, J.J. Reddick, they all shoot different shots and come from different places. Their stance and their balance, everything is different. So I think if you just master what you do, I think the sky is the limit.

Q: Do you study other shooters?

A: I don’t study shooting but I do study how shooters play. I’ve watched a lot of film on J.J. Reddick, how he moves without the ball. I watched a lot of film on Kyle Korver. Everybody watches Steph, but you can’t be like Steph because he’s different. I think as a shooter, 75 to 80 percent of it is confidence. It’s all mind, all mind.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

COACH SABAN'S ADVICE TO ASSISTANTS MOVING ON

As Coach Saban's coaching tree continues to grow, there was an article at AJC.com that delved into what if any advice Coach Saban gives to his assistants as they gain head coaching positions. Here are a few excerpts of the article form Andrew Ashtleford:
Nick Saban says the same thing to his former assistants when they move on. He said he told Kirby Smart upon taking the job at Georgia, "Be your own man. Be yourself. Do it the way you think it ought to be done. Don't try to be somebody else."
That’s quality advice from Saban. It would be tempting for any of the coach’s former assistants to try to pattern their coaching styles after Alabama’s successful leader.
However, the greatest success comes when someone is able to place their own fingerprints on a program in a unique way. Clearly, Smart has done that this season in leading Georgia to an SEC title and an appearance in the National Championship Game.

Monday, January 22, 2018

THE LEADERSHIP PLAYBOOK

Anytime we can pass along a resource that could be valuable to you or your team we do so.  Such is the case with "The Leadership Playbook" by Jamy Bechler.  It's one of those few books that would be beneficial to a coach as well as a player to read.  A big component to teaching is story telling and Jamy shares so many great stories to help get important points across to your team.  Don Meyer says "Your example isn't the main thing -- it's the only thing."  And Jamy has so many examples in this book that can relate to so many different areas to your players.

Each chapter also starts out with several motivational quotes -- something we are always looking for to help us paint a picture for our players.

Jamy has done his homework as well including this passage on Kwahi Leonard of San Antonio:
During the 2015-16 season, Kwahi Leonard shot 44.3% from the three-point arc.  Only J.J. Redick and Steph Curry shot better.  Considering that Leonard was First-Team All-NBA, that hardly seemed strange.  However, a few years earlier he had been a very poor shooter.  I his two years at San Diego State University, he shot 20.5% and 29.1% from the three-point arc.  It is a testament to Leonard's coachability and work ethic that we was willing to honestly evaluate his game and his goals.
There are so many of these types of stories that can help motivate a player.  We have used several with our team already.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

SOMETIMES YOU NEED HARD

Some great thoughts from Coach Nick Saban when asked after Alabama's hard fought 31-24 victory on the road at Mississippi State about the game being harder than he wanted it to be:

"Sometimes you need hard.  If we're going to beat really good teams, if we're going to be able to compete, we've got to learn how to compete in close games.  Where every player counts...where you've got to play every play for 60 minutes in the game...every third down is important.  There's lots of opportunities in critical situations in the game for players to make plays.  And we don't always have that when we win 49-0."


Sunday, November 5, 2017

TEACHING IN THE iY GENERATION

From time to time I will take the opportunity to review and recommend a book to coaches.  I don't do this lightly.  Having said that, there are few books I would recommend more strongly to those coaching and teaching today than "iY Generation: Secrets to Connecting with Today's Teens and Young People in a Digital Age."  The book, written by Tim Elmore, was brought to my attention by Georgia Head Coach, Joni Taylor.

How good was the book? I took 41 typed pages of notes!  I spent a couple of days on the road with Mike Neighbors talking about the book and the challenge of teaching millennials.  I went as far as to invite Mike to speak at our Coaching Academy this fall on the subject.


P.S. - If you haven't already subscribed to Elmore's email blog you are missing out on information that can be extremely beneficial to helping your team!

Listening to Buzz Williams this summer at Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, he made the comment, "Don't be that coach that complains about how difficult it is to coach this generation."  His challenge was for us to adjust...think outside the box in an attempt to be better teachers.


Elmore's book, in my opinion is an absolute must read for anyone coaching and teaching.  He goes into great detail as to how and why today's young people are wired the way they are today.  He then gives thoughts and concepts to help us to bridge the gap and maximize out ability to impact our players and teams.


A couple of quotes that Elmore opens with sums it up completely:



“If you want happiness for a lifetime, help the next generation.”
-Chinese Proverb

“Our children are messages we send to a generation we will never see.”
-Unknown



Again, I took 41 pages of notes -- here's brief section that speaks what we are seeing in the iY Generation:


Observation #1: They Want to Belong Before they Believe
Elmore states that this generation isn't one uses facts before making decisions.  In fact, he says, "hey would rather join and belong to a small affinity group before they embrace the beliefs of that group."

Observation #2: They Want an Experience Before an Explanation
The book uses an analogy from Leonard Sweet in describing today's generation.  Sweet says they are "EPIC" -- Experimental...Participatory...Image-Rich...Connected.  Elmore states that to effectively teach that we must understand that a lecture won't do it anymore.  We must connect to them by capturing their imaginations. Elmore says: "So instead of asking, 'What do I want to say?' We should ask ourselves, 'How can I say it creatively and expe-rientially?.”

Observation #3: They Want a Cause Before They want a Course
Quite simply Elmore says "If you want to seize the attention of students today, plan to give them a reason for why they need to listen to your words."

Observation #4: They Want a Guide on the Side Before They Want a Sage on the Stage
Elmore explains that today's youth aren't really looking for experts..."especially if they are plastic or untouchable."

A strong example he gave? "When students were recently asked about their heroes, for the first in over 20 years they did not list an athlete at the top of the list. Their number one response was Mom or Dad. They hunger for more relationship than for information—even relevant information."

Observation #5: They Want to Play before They Pay
Elmore also delves into the instant gratification syndrome that many millennials have -- the microwave philosophy of now.

From Elmore: "I find many characteristics of Generation iY healthy and fascinating. However one may cause trouble for them later in life. For students today, almost everything comes instantly. They don’t like waiting for anything. 'Pay now, play later' mentality tends to be foreign.  Results have to come quickly, or they may lose interest."

Observation #6: They Want to Use but Not Be Used by Others
Elmore also points out another characteristic of iY Generation: "Millennials love to use any means possible to get what they want—the internet, cell phones, IMs, or purchasing music for their iPods. At the same time, they tend to be very weary of anyone they suspect of trying to use them."

Observation #7: They want a Transformation, Not Merely a Touch
What the millennials see today: "The expectations of students get higher and higher with each decade."

One other statement from Elmore in this section that is critical for us as teachers to understand: "To connect and influence Generation iY, we’ll likely have to adjust to them."




Tuesday, October 24, 2017

THE LAST ARROW

The following is my favorite passage from the book "The Last Arrow," by Edwin Raphael McManus.  The book is an emotion read as McManus and he was on his way to completing the book was diagnosed with cancer.  It is incredibly well written with the thesis of time and what we are doing with it.  It's about giving life your best, until you've used that "last arrow."

Here a just a sampling of takeaways from this book:

On Life
When you come to the end of your days, you will not measure your life based on success and failures. All of those will eventually blur together into a single memory called “life.” What will give you solace is a life with nothing left undone. One that’s been lived with relentless ambition, a heart on fire, and with no regrets. On the other hand, what will haunt you until your final breath is who you could have been but never became and what you could have done but never did.

On Time
Time seduces us into believing that it is the one friend who will never run out on us, but the cruel truth is that it always does.  It would not be unfair to say that time lies to us.  It tricks us into believing that we can wait until tomorrow to do the things we should have done yesterday.  And while I find an endless number of reasons why people leave things in life undone, I find one unifying characteristic of those who leave nothing for the next life: a sense of urgency.

On Success
Success is a tyrant that will enslave you just as quickly as failure.  If you let success own you, you will find yourself trapped by your success and terrified by the possibility of failure.  Success will lie to you and tell you that your future is just an extension of your past, when at its best, success is simply preparation for new challenges.  Every day you will have to choose between living in the past, staying in the present, or creating a future.  The great danger lies in that the easy path is to hold on to what you know, cling to what you have, and make the future an extension of the past.  Though there is no way to stop time, you have to choose the future.  Although you are grounded in the past, you must not be grounded by the past.  And while tomorrow is coming regardless of what you do, the future comes because of what you do.

On Greatness
Greatness is a gift given to individuals by those who choose to surround them with their own greatness. Let me repeat myself: no great endeavor has ever been accomplished alone. Yet this realization does not diminish the greatness of the individuals we hold up as inspirations to us all. The fact that personal greatness is never achieved alone, the fact that personal greatness is always the sum total of the hard work and deep commitment of an untold number of people, does not in any way diminish the grandeur of an individual’s accomplishments. In fact, it elevates it. It’s much easier to do something yourself. It takes so much more work, it demands so much of yourself, to create an environment where highly talented, skilled, and intelligent people can work together for a common goal. If anything, this is the true genius behind all greatness. It is most certainly true when we are dealing with sustained greatness. What I’ve observed over the years is that all of us can have moments of greatness and glimpses of greatness, but what seems so unattainable is sustaining the level of commitment, resolve, and quality that achieves sustained greatness. That is why I am always fascinated by those who not only accomplish something extraordinary once but do it over and over again. 

On Seizing Opportunity
Striking the last arrow is not only about seizing every opportunity; it is also about being the right person at the right moment.  The moment requires action or even reaction.  Those moments and actions are informed and fueled by who we are.  The best way to ensure that you will seize every action or even reaction.  Those moments and actions are informed and fueled by who we are.  The best way to ensure that you will seize every opportunity is to be the best expression of who you are. 

INSIGHT INTO BEING A GREAT TEAMMATE

I've just finished read "Teammate" by David Ross and my friend Don Yaeger.  I've spoke to my friends who love baseball and they love this book -- with good reason.  You get a great insight into the career of Ross but more importantly a peak in the dugout and clubhouse of the Chicago Cubs World Series run.


For me, I was fascinated with the title of the book and some of the thoughts regarding being a good teammate.  

This first pass is one that I will be sharing with our Aggie Leadership Council -- the art of being aware.  Having a pulse for your team to help often solve problems before they become problems:
I think good teammates have a high level of self-awareness. If you are self-aware, you have a better chance of focusing on the moment, you have a better chance of processing information. If you know yourself and are able to make adjustments, you will improve as a player, or have the potential to help those around you improve, because you understand the. Self-awareness is tied to authenticity. People who lack self-awareness tend to be more narcissistic because they can’t truly read themselves.

The next point is often lost an players and even coaches.  Just because you not in the lineup doesn't mean you responsibilities of being a good teammate are minimized in any capacity. In fact, that when they grow in importance.  The player who is a great teammate when he's not on the field or the court is the best kind of teammate:
Whether I was scheduled to play on a given day or not, I always tried to bring my personality and my energy to the ballpark. That was a very important part of being a good teammate to me. If I didn’t have my energy that day, it was difficult to invest in the team. If I was dragging or not into that day, I hurt the team And my teammates expected it of me. As a veteran if I was not checked in at all times, it took away from my credibility. It would be hard to criticize a teammate and be respected. I think that’s important from a manager and as a professional baseball player—you’ve got to be the same guy every day. Everyone has good and bad days and mood swings. I did too. But I tried to be the same guy every day that I went to the field.

And again, teammates aren't great because they have an amazing stat line.  As Ross says below, it's not "about numbers."
Being a good teammate and leader, in the long run, wasn’t about numbers. It was about presence and how you were perceived by the rest of the group. That’s what mattered most. Talent is part of the equation, but when you combine talent with accountability and authenticity, it is tough to beat.

A lot more to this book on Ross' thought of being a great teammate and how he actually grew into that role.




Friday, October 20, 2017

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TWO AND THREE WEEKS INTO PRACTICE TO KEEP YOUR TEAM INSPIRED

Many years ago at a clinic, I heard Kelvin Sampson say "Most coaches are excited about practice the first couple of weeks.  Then they get tired or bored.  The best coaches know how to stay locked in."

I think this is just as true for players as it is coaches -- though often the players may take the lead from the coaching staff in terms of their energy and enthusiasm.  It is not enough to write up a practice plan and than go about executing it.  You need to give thought to the placement of drills, the length of a workout and the strategic (yes, I said strategic) schedule of off days.

What are you doing to keep your team inspired and excited about practice?  John Wooden was a huge believer in make sure practice ended on a positive note.  "Give them a reason to want to come back tomorrow," he once told me.

Don Meyer once talked about a 30 win season in which he could sleep because he'd lay away all night trying to figure out how he was going to his team "an edge the next day in practice."

Sometimes we think inspiration is about getting teams emotionally ready to play a game.  But you better find away to get that same result out of your practices.

Nick Saban is a master at keeping his players locked in. Here is an older post where Coach Saban came up with a plan of putting responsibility on key players.

In a press conference this week, Saban said he "created some tension" among his team in practice which is something he likes to do.

Are bringing someone in occasionally to speak to them?  Letting them here a different voice and even a different perspective can be incredibly beneficial.

Once again, an older post on Coach Saban and how he used speakers with his team.

My point is getting your team ready shouldn't just apply to games -- but importantly, apply to practices.

TONY DUNGY ON THE 7 E'S OF MENTORING

"The Mentor Leader" by Tony Dungy is an incredible book that will benefit any coach of any sport on any level. In fact, the book transcends coaching. But in regard to the world of athletics, it is a great book for a head coach looking to mentor assistant coaches and players as well as for assistant coaches looking to mentor players.


ENGAGE


"Teamwork doesn't tolerate the inconvenience of distance."
-Author Unknown


I believe it is critical for mentor leaders to engage with those they lead. It's impossible to mentor from a distance. Without engagement, you cannot lead effectively. You cannot mentor with empathy. You cannot inspire people to new heights and lift them to a better place in their lives. If you do not engage with those you serve, you will never understand them or know enough about them to be able to have a positive effect in their lives.


EDUCATE


"Good teachers help every student earn an A."
-Wilbur Dungy


Education is an essential building block of mentor leadership. Workers who are new to a task cannot be empowered and elevated until they've been educated in what to to. First things first.


EQUIP


"Our job as a coaching staff is to show you what to do and how to do it. Your job as players is to do it consistently."
-Chuck Noll


Mentor leaders create an environment in which others can be productive and excel. They set the parameters and guidelines for the task, project and continually recast the vision, and then provide the tools and equipment needed for everyone to be successful in their assignment and to ultimately accomplish their mission. In essence, they strive to furnish what is needed for the task -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually -- and to accomplish the mission.


ENCOURAGE


"Correction does much, but encouragement does more."
-Goethe


Encouragement is the fuel that powers our efforts to engage, educate, and equip. Nothing does more to lubricate the rough spots than a good dose of encouragement. Mentor leaders care. Mentor leaders lift others up. Mentor leaders encourage.


EMPOWER


"As we look ahead...leaders will be those who empower others."
-Bill Gates


Once the people you lead are ready, it's time to turn them loose. But not before they're ready. As a mentor leader, you have a responsibility to engage, educate, equip, and encourage them first -- and at every appropriate point thereafter, as well. You can't just walk in and empower them. If they're not ready, you're only setting them up to fail.


ENERGIZE


"Without inspiration, the best powers of the mind are dormant. There is a tinder in us which needs to be quickened with sparks."
-Johann Gottfried Von Herder


Great leaders energize and inspire those they lead. Even as they face their own daily struggles and stresses, mentor leaders look for ways to energize and motivate the people around them.


ELEVATE


"Teamwork: Simply state, it is less me and more we."
-Author Unknown


Many leaders struggle with this essential concept. Elevating is difficult. It seems paradoxical to elevate someone who might end up taking your place. But raising up leaders is the truly self-less goal of every mentor leader, the culmination of focusing on others. To elevate your followers means to help them reach their God-given potential, even it means preparing them to replace you. It may also mean that you prepare them to leave your organization for better opportunities elsewhere -- perhaps even with your competitors.